LatinaLista — Rumors are running rampant across the country as to the fate of immigration reform in this legislative season. Will another Republican Senator sign on to the Schumer/Graham bill? How committed are Democrats to the issue? Would there be enough votes to possibly pass something?
The whole issue has become like that popular magic trick of the cups and ball. The magician tells people to keep their eye on the ball as he covers it with one of three cups and continues to slide each cup at lightening speed trying to hide the real location of the ball.
At this point, there is just so much conflicting information coming from Washington and the Obama administration that it’s hard to say where Democrats stand exactly on their promise of reforming immigration policy.
While Democrats are publicly assuring everyone that they plan to continue forward with immigration reform — the latest Democrat being Sen. Durbin who says immigration reform remains a top priority for him — there are Republicans like Arizona Senator John Kyl who don’t hide their intent to derail any kind of immigration bill:
“First of all our strategy on health care included taking as long as we possibly could so the American people could clearly understand (it).. and it took a year for it to get done,” Kyl said, adding they will do their best to slow up any other bills, like immigration reform, in the same manner.
“My guess is (immigration reform) won’t have the votes to pass, but political promises have been made to key constituency of the party that is in power. Republicans will use the opportunity to filibuster…”
Yet, while the Democratic leadership, and President Obama, have reasserted their convictions to pass immigration reform, they stand idly by while current practices by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) send a clear and troubling message to immigrant communities and advocates — that actions speak louder than words.
Those actions would seem to imply that the Obama administration wants everyone to remain so focused on immigration reform, the bill, that they’re hoping to use sleight of hand to distract from the ongoing abuses by ICE against undocumented immigrants. Abuses that are neither just nor what the Latino community expected from the Democrats.
Though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week in the case of Padilla v. Kentucky that criminal counsel must inform an immigrant defendant whether a plea carries a risk of deportation, stories are routinely surfacing from deported individuals that they were forced by ICE officials to sign letters of self-deportation barring them from returning to the country for 10 years or they were told they would face “criminal prosecution.”
As one 18-year-old deportee, who had grown up in the United States from the age of 3 and was attending a university on a full scholarship for electrical engineering and now finds himself living in a Bangladesh apartment with his parents, said, “I was forced to sign the paper.”
Ironic that the Supreme Court should uphold the rights of immigrants while ICE should abuse them.
And that’s not the only thing.
As Democrats still tell immigrant communities and advocates to keep their eye on the cup with immigration reform underneath it, comes the revelation that underneath the third cup is the news that ICE, the authorizing entity over local police departments in enforcing federal immigration laws as proposed by the 287(g) program, actually has little control over the program.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reported that ICE has “serious problems with oversight and accountability of the 287(g).” Also, what’s even more disturbing is that it’s been revealed that the job performance of ICE enforcement officers is measured by arrest quotas for immigrants with simple civil immigration status violations.
Obama and his party condemned the Bush administration for their random work site raids and taking into custody of people who were only guilty of not having the proper paperwork to be in the country legally, yet they are doing the same thing. Instead of going after those undocumented immigrants who are the true criminals — murderers, rapists, robbers, drug dealers — it’s reported that non-criminal immigrant violators are being deported at higher rates than what occurred under the Bush administration.
Though everyone is still focused on that middle cup — nationwide marches being planned May 1 — the increasing news of continued ICE abuses with enforcement practices and deportation intimidation tactics is filling everybody with a sense of dread.
The greatest fear being that when that middle cup is lifted — there won’t be a ball underneath it, just emptiness.